In 2008, Tosca L. Zern, Richard J. Wood, Christine Greene, and Kristy L. West of the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, CT and Yanzhu Liu, Dimple Aggarwal, Neil S. Shachter, and Maria Luz Fernandez of the Department of Medicine at Columbia University in New York, NY, on the effect of grape polyphenols on plasma, inflammation and oxidative stress in both Pre- menopausal and Post-menopausal women.
Resveratrol and Cholesterol
To evaluate the effects of grape polyphenols on plasma lipids, inflammatory cytokines, and oxidative stress, a sample of 24 pre-menopausal and 20 post-menopausal women were randomly assigned to consume grape powder or a placebo for 4 weeks. The grape powder was mostly carbohydrates, but was rich in polyphenols such as, flavans, anthocyanins, quercetin, myricetin, kaempferol, and resveratrol.
Total cholesterol, total triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, also known as bad cholesterol, are three of the main risk factors for coronary heart disease (CHD). The loss of estrogen has a deep effect increasing plasma lipids and apolipoproteins associated with CHD.
Resveratrol lowers LDL “Bad” Cholesterol
Plasma triglyceride concentrations, plasma LDL cholesterol and apolipoproteins were reduced after the intake of grape powder. Results were more marked in pre-menopausal women (15%), than in post-menopausal women (6%). Bad cholesterol oxidation was not modified by the treatment. However, whole-body was significantly reduced after the intake of the resveratrol supplement. The grape supplement also decreased the levels of plasma tumor necrosis which plays a major role in the inflammation process.
Leading up to this 1999 study, there was a great deal of literature surrounding the health benefits of resveratrol, a polyphenol naturally occurring in many foods and beverages. Its cancer preventative and heart disease preventative characteristics have made red wine resveratrol the focus of many studies. However, Calabrese intended to determine if these health benefits would extend themselves beyond cancer and heart disease and might be an influence on menopause.
Calabrese’s Findings Surrounding Resveratrol
The hypothesis of this study is based on the idea that the structure of resveratrol is so much like that of diethylstilbestrol, a drug prescribed to prevent miscarriages, that it might act as a phytoestrogen in humans.
Calabrese’s team conducted a population study, read literature on resveratrol’s effects on female reproduction, osteoporosis, and cancer, and they conducted various trials of their own.
Their findings concluded that moderate wine consumption appeared to act as a phytoestrogen, a compound in plants that simulates estrogen in humans. Resveratrol doses boosted the physiological reactions that typically accompany estrogen increases.
This activity could effectively moderate the effects and symptoms of menopause in women.